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Thankful But Troubled

Feb 5, 2001

I appreciate the service you offer. Information is certainly the key to prevention. As a clinician, I am however troubled by a few of the answers you've given. Namely, by your occasional recommendation that PCR tests be done for those who are worried about the accuracy of their antibody tests. I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but PCR tests are NOT recommended for use in a screening setting because, unless the person is in the midst of ARS, the test has a high false-negative rate. Additionally, the test is more likely to be false-positive than standard HIV serology at all phases of infection. Please...I have to deal with people who read your very informative website and others out there and clutch onto the mistaken notion that a PCR test is the "magic bullet" that will tell them whether or not they are HIV infected. The only "magic bullet" is a serology at 6 months after an exposure, at which point all people will have seroconverted. If people are having trouble waiting for that, I suggest that you refer them to counseling instead of to a more complex test that will only heighten their fear and confusion. Continue the good work... Thankful But Troubled in New Jersey

Response from Mr. Kull

Thank you for your input and I agree with much of what you say. PCR tests are clearly indicated for use in certain situations and are not always reliable in diagnosing HIV infection. I hope that I have been clear about that in my responses and would appreciate specific references to responses where I haven't.

RMK



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